STOKE CITY have drawn a considerable amount of encouragement from the number of young players who have graduated through their Academy system to become scholars.
Nine of the brightest young prospects have signed two-year scholarships with the Club and the vast majority of them are either local players or have been with the Academy some time.
The intake of new scholars boosts an Under-18 group which enjoyed a highly-promising end to their 2012-13 season, one most notable for completing a League double over Liverpool.
City have invested a substantial amount of money in the development of their Academy to attain Category One status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan in English football.
That was a major boost to the Club's long-term objective of producing home-grown talent for the first team and ultimately improving their chances of achieving sustained success.
Now, the Potters have been heartened by the make-up of their new first year scholars as preparations for the 2013-14 season get into full swing at that particular level.
"It's tremendously encouraging to see the players who have been given scholarships," said Academy Manager Dave Wright. "It's certainly the biggest influx of local players in my time with the Club.
"Four of them are from in or around this area who have been with us since they were very young, while four others have been within our Academy system for two or more years.
"The fact that so many of them have made this step-up to become scholars will certainly act as inspiration to others who are playing for different age groups in the Academy."
He added: "All of the new scholars gained some experience at Under-18 level last season, so we are very optimistic that we will be competitive at this level in the coming season."
The new Academy scholars are:
Lewis Banks - a 16-year-old defender who was born in Stoke-on-Trent and has been with the Club since 2005
Kelvin Douglas - a 16-year-old midfielder who was born in Bristol and has been with the Club for three years
Liam Edwards - a 16-year-old defender who was born in Crewe and has been with the Academy for eight years
Lee Pickerill - a 16-year-old defender born in Newcastle-under-Lyme who has been with the Club since 2007
Theo Vassell - a 16-year-old defender who was born in Stoke-on-Trent and joined the Academy eight years ago
Charles-Anthony Weston-Hayles - a 15-year-old striker born in Lewisham who has been with the Club since 2011
Oliver Roberts - a 16-year-old midfielder born in Ashton-under-Lyme who has been with the Club for two years
Yusuf Coban - a 16-year-old striker who was born in Germany and has been with the Academy for two years
Johnville Renee-Pringle - a 16-year-old defender born in London and joined the Club from Leyton Orient last year